Good and evil… Swords and sorcery… Munchings and crunchings… Lloyd Alexander’s The Chronicles of Prydain series had everything Disney wanted in an animated film: a young hero on a noble quest to save his world from a wicked king.
Young pig keeper Taran is entrusted with the care of Hen Wen, a pig who turns out to be psychic. Hen Wen is also the only creature in the realm who knows the location of the Black Cauldron, a device of near-limitless power. Taran takes Hen Wen into the forest to hide her from the clutches of would-be despot the Horned King.
The boy loses the pig but finds a helpful (if a bit greedy) little creature called Gurgi. The two find Hen Wen, get captured, meet fellow prisoner Princess Eilonwy, and escape, finding a magical sword along the way. Now united in their quest, the new group sets out to save the Cauldron from the Horned King’s clutches, a journey that will take them to a trio of kooky witches, through swamps and marshes and into battle against the Horned King’s army of undead minions.
Hoping to move beyond the “kiddie film” label that had been affixed to the studio’s animated product, Disney released The Black Cauldron with a ‘PG’ rating. The strategy backfired, leaving the studio with little income to offset the difficult film’s high production costs. As a result, The Black Cauldron disappeared from the U.S. for over thirteen years before finding a new audience (and perhaps a chance at redemption) on video in late 1998.